Here’s what you have to feel guilty about regarding David Guetta’s “Titanium”: that you’re not listening to Mary J. Blige. The legendary diva recorded a version of the song that leaked (don’t count on that link working for long), demonstrating that while it may be true that Blige can do no wrong, in this case there was someone who could do it better — and that someone was a 36-year-old alt Australian singer-songwriter who unexpectedly became a radio force this summer with appearances on Guetta’s “Titanium” and Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones.”

Blige’s rendition feels introverted and hurt, but Sia understood that this track isn’t about subtlety. The song was first offered to Katy Perry, an understandable move given Perry’s defiantly independent persona. Perry might have done fine with it, but Sia throws herself into the performance with a fearless fervor that makes you believe she is bulletproof — Russell Brand would run in terror.

David Wilson‘s video makes for a compelling counterpoint to the song: it’s a bleak, tightly constructed short film that features none of the musical performers. It dramatizes a night in the life of a boy with supernatural powers that cause him to be hounded by adult authorities. The video’s been compared to J.J. Abrams’s Super 8, but it also recalls Steven Spielberg’s E.T. in its depiction of a boy whose extraordinary gift makes him an undeserving target. At Sia’s full-throated urging, though, this boy makes it through all right. The lovelorn masses who pushed “Titanium” into the Top 10 might have been hoping to steal some of that strength for themselves.

Words by Jay Gabler, a co-founder and co-editor of The Tangential.

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